Why Do Coyotes Howl at the Moon?
Contrary to popular belief, coyotes don’t howl at the moon – full or otherwise. Coyotes will “sing” morning or evening. Despite its lonely sound, the coyote’s howl is a form of communication.
Scientists who have listened to the songs of coyotes believe that howling is the coyote’s way of keeping strange coyotes out of its territory, as well as keeping in touch with other members of the coyote family.
Coyotes sometimes call other coyotes to hunt or eat food. Coyotes also squeal, bark, yip and yowl. All these sounds have special meanings to coyotes. The moon provides light and allows coyotes to see in dense, dark forests, provoking nightly activity such as hunting in groups.
Coyotes are not necessarily howling at the moon, but the moonlight does lead to behaviors that cause the coyotes to communicate verbally to each other by howling. It’s common for coyotes to howl in groups or when they’re separated from each other.
Coyotes work together as a team when they hunt, at times separating from each other to corner or seclude the prey. The kill is a team effort and the meal is shared by the entire coyote pack.
During the hunting process, howling is used to alert each other of their positions. Even the minimal light provided by the moon will send coyotes out on a hunt, because it’s easier for them to surprise their prey in the dark than it is during the brightness of day.